USD Magazine, Fall 2003

fOOlBAll'S RECORD PlAYER Toreros QB Leads Drive to Championship

by Timothy McKernan E ric Rasmussen shrugs when asked about the sensational statistics he posted last year. "They're just numbers, " says the Toreros senior quarterback. Last season, his numbers - a whopping 61 percent of passes com– pleted for a total of 2,470 yards, 25 touchdowns and only one inter– ception - added up to Rasmussen being honored by the NCM as the top-rated passer in Division I-M, a first for a USO quarterback. Rasmussen's stats reckoned out to an overall passing rating of 164.2. For perspective, consider that the best single– season rating in the

National Football League, set in 1994 by Steve Young of the San Francisco 49ers, was 11 2.8. Ironically, in 2003 the Toreros installed the West Coast offense, a pass-based attack devised by former 49ers head coach Bill Walsh - the same offense Young used when he esrab- "This offense was made for quarterbacks like Eric," says USO offensive coordi- lished the NFL record.

Rasmussen began 2003 with a record- setting perfomance against Davidson - 19 of 29 passing for 467 yards and 6 touchdowns - that earned him Player of the Week honors from the Pioneer Football League and College

Sporting News. nator Tim Orevno. "He is very smart and makes quick decisions, has a good arm and is very mobile, and that is the formula for success for quarterbacks in the West Coast offense. Eric is poised for another very big year." Executing a complicated offense in a highly physical game that is a cross between chess and demolition derby requires a Herculean men– tal effort. One play, for example, can be run from one of 70 different formations, and the quarterback has to know not only his own responsibility but also the location and assignments of all his team– mates. Rasmussen, entering his third season as USO's starter at the position, says absorbing the complicated offensive schemes is a little like learning a foreign language.

"I can call 'wing right zip 2 jet z drive' in the huddle and that tells everyone what we want to do, " he says. "But the receivers and I have a series of signals that we use to communicate a change to a certain part of a pass route, based on what we see the defense doing. Each route has half a dozen or more variations, and it's up to us to make sure we are on the same page. " The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Rasmussen certainly has both the mental and physical credentials to perform at such a demanding position. At El Camino High School in his native Sacramento, Rasmussen - in his senior year named MVP of both the football and baseball teams - was recruited by several universities, including Pac-10 Conference powers Arizona State and Oregon. USO assistant coach Jason



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